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99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain FAQ Frequently asked questions in the 99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain forum.

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Old 11-16-2005, 11:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Winter Operation

A couple of things bug me.

First – It does not get COLD in Texas. Nor Florida, SC or SoCal. Chilly maybe, but not cold. It does get cold in the Dakotas, Montana, Alaska and in the Prairie Provinces. Cold doesn't start until 0F or -20C.

Second – Cycling the glow plugs. This does nothing except help wear out your GPR. Your glow plugs will stay on well after the “Wait to Start” light goes out.

Now that is off my chest, down to the business of how I operate my 7.3 in the COLD.

The batteries need to be good. If the batteries are older than 4 years, they are near the end of their useful life. Even if the truck seems to turn over good, poor batteries will not have enough power to keep the glow plugs hot and supply the power to operate the injectors.

The glow plug system needs to be in good operating condition. klhansen has posted a sticky on the top of this forum on how to check them.

Fuel needs to be a winter blend. Buying fuel for the slip tank in Texas and trying to run on it in Saskatchewan in January won't get you out of the driveway. If it gets unusually cold, some anti-gel additive will add some insurance. Winter fuel will give you about 20 percent less energy so you mileage will suffer big time in the winter around here.

Oil needs to be as or better than recommended in the diesel supplement chart. The recommend 10W30 dino will work most for most areas. That chart is base on dino oils and you may prefer a synthetic with a larger viscosity spread. Just ensure that it meets or exceeds the specifications. A lot of folks have gone to 5W40 Rotella for year round use.

A 1,000 watt block heater is standard equipment on 99-04 7.3s. If you haven't found the cord, it's tied up under the by the left tow hook. I do not get concerned with plugging in the block heater until the temperature starts dropping to -20C (0F). Ford says that three hours of operation is sufficient and some folks use a timer as not to waste energy. However, if it is -30C and the wind is howling, three hours won't do much.

The transmission is also temperature sensitive and plugging in the block heater isn't going to help it. It will not shift out of second gear until it is damn good and ready. It will not lockup either. In fact, mine, once it does lockup will unlock once the thermo valve opens the cooler line and that slug of cold oil hits the transmission. At least, I think that is what is happening.

What's that noise? One of two things and probably both. If it's coming from under the hood, it's the engine cooling fan. The engine fan's thermo coupling is suffering from “morning sickness” (Ford's term, not mine) and is more noticeable in cold weather. This will quieten down in a few minutes as the silicates or what ever they are, get back to where ever they belong.

If it's coming from the tail pipe and sounds like someone has stuffed a potato up there, it's the Exhaust Back Pressure Valve (EBV). This valve closes in a cold engine to create a load which will help the engine warm up a little quicker.

RPM increases. In the cold weather and the vehicle believes it has been parked for 90 seconds to 2 minutes the computer will increase the engine rpm. I understand the standard transmission equipped need the park brake set for this to kick in. How much increase depends on the ambient temperature and barometric pressure. My truck will idle up from 700 to 1300 rpm. You will notice that engine temperature has no bearing. The reason for the rpm increase is to prevent a condition called “wet stacking”. A diesel engine produces little heat while idling. Sucking in cold air doesn't help matters. The combustion chambers don't get hot enough and a sticky deposit remains on valves, valve stems and guides eventually causing engine damage. At least that's the story. I doubt you will find case of it actually happening to a 7.3 on this forum. Maybe it works. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

Blue smoke happens. My truck will start with the blue smoke just above freezing temps and get worse as the temperature plummets. Down around -30C the neighbors' houses start to disappear. If you let the vehicle idle, it will last a long time and if you drive off it will clear up quickly.

This is the way I do it in the cold (see cold above).
This truck is my daily drive and it's parked exposed in the driveway.

I turn the key on and wait 15 - 30 seconds or so. The colder it is, the longer I'll wait. The wait to start light is just another computer generated idiot light. The glow plugs stay powered up well after that lite goes out. Up to 2 minutes. If it has been plugged in, I will use that time to unplug the truck and do what ever with the extension cord.

The truck usually starts right up. May rock, roll and rattle a bit, but it starts. If yours get the romps, change oil. My truck will start cold soaked at -30C unaided with 10W30 dino oil. Done that on more than one occasion. And why not? Ford's manual says it will.

I don't let it idle any longer than it takes me to clean the ice and snow off the windows. Won't be going anywhere fast. The drive train is stiff as all get out and it going to take some power to move it. Letting it sit and idle in the driveway isn't going to help that. If it is really cold and stiff, I plan my route down residential streets so I can keep the rpm down to around 1,700 until I see the temp gage coming up and then keep it under 2,000 rpm until it is up in the operating range. With the engine working somewhat hard, it doesn't take very long. A mile or so.

This diesel has been better in the cold than any gasser I have owned. Starts better and warms up quicker.

Just a reminder – If you do a lot of stop and go driving and the engine doesn't get up to and stay at operating temperatures for a good length of time, it is considered severe service duty. You need to change oil more frequently.
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Old 11-16-2005, 11:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Nice writeup Cool_Canuck

I think this deserves a sticky [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]

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Old 11-16-2005, 12:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Right on.

Haven't had a winter yet on mine and you answered all my wonders. It will get 0-10F for weeks here and crack -20 -30F every now and then(that's without the windchill [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img]).
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Old 11-16-2005, 02:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

[ QUOTE ]

The transmission In fact, mine, once it does lockup will unlock once the thermo valve opens the cooler line and that slug of cold oil hits the transmission. At least, I think that is what is happening.


[/ QUOTE ]

There is no thermo valve. There is a normally closed spring loaded pressure relief valve. If the fluid is too thick to flow 100% thru the cooler it pushes the valve open and flows directly to the back of the transmission. It always maintains the same pressure on the cooler as the spring is capable of maintaining. The cold thick fluid will be gradually pushed from the cooler and replaced with fresh fluid from the converter. The valve becomes more closed as the fluid warms.

Just FYI a 6.0 cooler had a core demension of 23" x 13¾" x 1¼". It has 25 sets of plates. This is about double the size of a Tru-Cool Max or a V-10 Cooler(IIRC they have 13) and over twice the size of the stock PSD cooler(IIRC it has 9 sets of plates). The 6.0 cooler holds 30 oz of fluid. The transmission pan holds about 7 qts.
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Old 11-16-2005, 04:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Thanks Kevin. You can take it down in April. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

Thanks for the info 444-4D. I had no idea why it does what it does, just seemed the most plausible explaination. Probably got a few other things wrong as well and I'm sure I'll here about em.

edit:
On second thought, why is then that the tranny has to be warm when doing the fluid change in the FAQ? If it is not warm enough the fluid will spit out of the port. Or is that the same pressure relief valve causing that?
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Old 11-17-2005, 07:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Great post. I'm a new owner (2002 f250) and had some concerns on cold start. We will be leaving in early Jan and had serious concerns. Eastern Ontario can get pretty nasty that time of year. Thanks. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/warmsmile.gif[/img]
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Old 11-18-2005, 01:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Question,,

What could a lower watt heater be put on the trans pan? For nights that it is really cold.. ie -25F would it be any help?

just thinking out loud... I know that in the Fairbanks area years ago people would take the hot embers out of the wood stove and put them under the rear dif and the trans/engine to help warm up before starting out in the mornings with temps of -50F...
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Old 11-18-2005, 10:05 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

[ QUOTE ]
Question,,

What could a lower watt heater be put on the trans pan? For nights that it is really cold.. ie -25F would it be any help?

[/ QUOTE ]
You can buy heating pads that are magnetic or glue on. These work quite well from what I understand. Going into my first winter with this truck, I talked to owners in the north, where -40 is common, about adding on a pan heater. Some had them but found they were not necessary. The ones that did use them, used them instead of the block heater. We are talking about the engine oil pan. Nothing to prevent you putting one on the transmission pan, although I don't know of anyone who has.

You need to consider the electrical draw with a bunch of heaters. Most plugins are 15 amp, sometimes 20. Most of the time you will be limited to the block heater and battery blanket anyway.
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Old 11-30-2005, 07:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Nice post! I agree it does not get COLD in Texas. That said, it was about 26 F. the other morning and I experienced two things new to me on the morning startup (just got the truck in May so this is my first winter with a diesel). The EBPV did it's cold weather thing (wierd noise and no boost/power) and the high idle came on. If not for this board I would have thought something had just gone bad wrong with the truck (especially the EBPV closing). So even us folks down here in Texas need to know this stuff. Thanks for all the knowledge on this forum.
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Old 11-30-2005, 12:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Thanks for the informative post cool_canuck. As far as batteries go, is there a recommended type of battery that works best for cold temperatures? is it worth paying extra for deep cycle batteries perhaps?

Thanks
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Old 12-03-2005, 09:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Thanks Cool_Canuck for this information. After moving from So. Cal. to Alabama, and having our first freeze, it is very helpfull.
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Old 12-03-2005, 02:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Only option missed --- espar heater or similar --- truck starts at -46C which is -50F -- and wind chill doesn't count [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif[/img] -- biggest worry -- snapping that serpentine belt [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img]
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Old 12-04-2005, 03:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

Now that I know my problem is normal, I have a few questions. I live in southern Nevada on the border of Death Valley. This summer my truck (Early 99 F-350 crew cab PSD) started romping. The temp. was around 70F. At that time it set a code for the cam sensor. I changed it.

Why was it romping when warm?

I use Rotella 15w-40. If I changed to 10w-30 or even 5w-40 will it help or hurt my engine?
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Old 12-04-2005, 04:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

[ QUOTE ]
Now that I know my problem is normal, I have a few questions. I live in southern Nevada on the border of Death Valley. This summer my truck (Early 99 F-350 crew cab PSD) started romping. The temp. was around 70F. At that time it set a code for the cam sensor. I changed it.

Why was it romping when warm?

I use Rotella 15w-40. If I changed to 10w-30 or even 5w-40 will it help or hurt my engine?

[/ QUOTE ]

The 5w-40 synthetics will NOT hurt your engine one bit and may even be better for your engine over 15w-40. 10w-30 should be ok if you don't work it too hard.

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Old 12-04-2005, 04:11 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Winter Operation

With synthetics how far between oil changes can you go? Can you get it at checkers or where is the best place to buy it?

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